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Digital Scotland Boasts Progress Towards Culling BT Exchange Only Lines

Monday, Jul 13th, 2015 (4:22 pm) - Score 2,746

The £410m Digital Scotland project claims that the on-going fight to deploy BT’s faster “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services into areas that were previously hobbled by the dreaded Exchange Only Lines (EOL) is having a strong impact, with around 60,000 such premises in 130 locations having benefitted.

Overall the state aid supported project aims to roll-out its new connectivity to 85% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2015/16 and 95% by the end of 2017/18. So far this work has already upgraded connectivity for roughly 350,000 premises and it’s interesting to learn that such a big chunk of that includes EOLs.

As the name implies, EOLs represent copper telephone / broadband lines that have been directly connected to a telephone exchange and thus do not go through one of the more traditional street cabinets (PCP).

In the past this made sense for locations where it was possible to reach all of the homes without ever having to build a cabinet. Unfortunately EOLs present more of a challenge to modern solutions like Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which thus requires an expensive network rearrangement to solve (i.e. reroute lines and build new cabinets).

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland Director, said:

Some areas in Scotland have a higher than average number of lines connected directly to the local exchange. This was often an advantage with first generation broadband over copper wires, but it creates additional challenges when it comes to the rollout of high-speed fibre.

Our engineers worked out an innovative way forward to give thousands more residents the chance to become part of the fibre broadband revolution. It’s just one of the challenges in this highly complex engineering programme, but the roll-out is progressing well and passing around 5,000 homes a week.”

Apparently many of the EOLs were tackled in places from Spean Bridge in the Highlands and Ballater in Aberdeenshire to Ochiltree in East Ayrshire, Clovenfords in the Scottish Borders and Gullane in East Lothian.

However EOLs aren’t only found in rural areas and some of the hardest to tackle are those that exist in urban settings, such as parts of London, where conducting a complex network rearrangement may create a lot of disruption for people, businesses and traffic; BT has been somewhat slower to deal with those.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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